Digitization of organizations - The six, critical, parallel shifts

Digitization of organizations: The six, critical, parallel shifts


The following will describe and evaluate six, critical, parallel “shifts” which combine to make digitization more manageable and predictable. It will also state whether, or not, these combined shifts will be relevant to relatively small organizations and if they need to change, be managed differently, or even replaced.

The six shifts in digitization

The first shift in the sequence in digitizing an organization is, “start with your story”. This is when an organization starts a digital transformation project, from the earliest stages. It needs to define a consistent way of what customers should experience across all the user journey’s when they engage with the organization. This of course will be relevant to smaller organizations, as user journeys must be defined on what digital channels will be the most effective in order to deliver the promised services to customers. Either the expertise needs to be hired externally, or it needs to be developed in-house.

Subsequently, the next phase of the shift is “sequencing your tech transformation”. This refers to integrating all existing software and applications into a backend system(s). In smaller organizations, it would most likely be a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. All applications are tied into this system, which helps to track every customer interaction and manage relationships with customers and potential prospects. Integrating all systems in a CRM for example, is of great value, even for smaller organizations, as it facilitates cooperation, boosts efficiency, and increases customer satisfaction over the course of the entire life cycle. It is also relatively inexpensive, not that difficult to learn, which means, the talent to manage and use the CRM internally even in a small organization can be achieved.

Digitization of organization
A visual example of simple software, application, and customer touchpoint integration into a CRM - Source: Comparing CRMs (http://comparingcrm.blogspot.com/2015/08/what-is-crm.html)[Accessed 9 May, 2020]

Consequently, the third shift, “turn, shift, accelerate, and repeat”, maybe the least relevant for a small organization. This refers to a constant state of innovation to improve and adapt to customer journeys, touch-points, software, applications, product, and accessible services through digitization. This may not be viable for relatively smaller organizations, as the pool of talent internally may not be available. The organization may not have internal developers constantly tweaking and improving the systems, while external consultants/developers may be too expensive on a permanent basis.

Furthermore, the next shift,” build talent—and your digital “factory”, smaller organizations will still need to adopt a mindset of changing the work culture and improving their capabilities. Especially, when new digital channels, user journey’s and new customer touchpoints are introduced. This shift refers to developing new digitization processes, developing adequate IT resources and hiring digitally oriented talent, or identifying them within the organization and developing their capabilities.

The next shift in the digitization process is,” create a “game plan” to guide the factory”. This would refer to a set of operating guidelines and methodologies that layout the required deliverables, governance steps, and working processes of the digital transformation within an organization. This is particularly relevant, as everyone in the organization must be aware of the future changes the digitization will bring to the work culture and working practices. Also, it will layout the way the digitization will be achieved, who may be involved internally/externally, and what the goals of each stage of the project are.

Once all the five shifts have been achieved or considered for digitization, the last element is, “track it all the way”. This is measuring the impact of change across the organization in terms of work culture and working practices, customer success, and the impact of software, application developments for customer touchpoints, and user journeys. The measurement and analyzation are relevant to smaller organizations, as it helps to understand working practice changes, successes of new customer touchpoints and may also help to divert resources to areas of the small business where it may be struggling.

Do the “shifts” need to change, be managed differently, or even replaced in digitization?

The two shift’s that definitely would need to be managed differently are the “turn, shift, accelerate, and repeat” and ‘build talent—and your digital “factory”. Often in small organizations, the employees are cross-trained and therefore do not have the resources nor the need to hire dedicated employees for every business function. Although they are cross-trained, they may not have for example the skills for applications nor software development. In that case, the small organization can resort to external consultants/developers on an ad hoc basis. This would still allow the smaller organization to be innovative and to a certain extent stay competitive, without having to hire new permanent staff for development if the budget doesn’t allow. Intermittently, this would also solve having to invest in the development of internal talent for specific specialization such as App development. All other shifts are relevant as they are, although a strong project manager with technical and project management skills would be a necessity for digital transformation.


The six “shifts” identified in this report are predominantly relevant to smaller organizations. However, pressure for constant and rapid innovation, as well as a possible lack of internal and expensiveness of external talent, can hinder the competitiveness of smaller businesses.

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